A member of the Somali community, Iman Ahmed said she keeps her cooking “really simple.” She makes a traditional Somali dish called sambusi, a dumpling stuffed with ground beef, and shredded carrots and then fried. Her family also likes malawah, which is similar to a crepe. “We add a little bit of sugar, and the sugar melts. The kids like it.”
Ahmed also serves suqaar, a Somali beef stew spiced with cumin that contains red bell peppers, green peppers, potatoes, carrots, and thinly chopped onions. She buys halal meats at a Somali-owned grocery, Garden of Eden on Mitchell Street, but says there are “actually lots of halal stores throughout Milwaukee.”
Ahmed, an elementary-school teacher at Guidance Academy, an Islamic school in South Milwaukee, is sheltering at home with her husband and three boys. “I’m in an interracial marriage,” she said. “He’s German-American and I’m Somali-Canadian,” so the family brings all those cultures to the table, Somali, Canadian, German, and American.
While sheltering at home, her husband and sons hosted a four-part cooking show online. On one episode, they made a sourdough flatbread or pancake called “anjelo” or “anjero” depending on what part of Somalia you’re from, she said.
“I’m about 95 percent vegetarian, so we tend to get a lot of our food from our backyard garden,” said Ahmed, who also raises her own chickens. Ahmed likes to emphasize healthy choices in her cooking. “We tend to eat what we grow,” she said. “But I don’t want my kids to miss out on how I grew up,” so at the start of Ramadan, she served traditional Somali food.
Whatever the cuisine, this unusual year has not prevented Wisconsin Muslims from joining their brothers and sisters around the globe in observing Ramadan.